Though hurricane season officially began June 1, activity in the tropics heated up ahead of schedule this year with Tropical Storm Alberta forming off South Carolina in late May, followed by Tropical Storm Beryl, which was the strongest pre-season storm to make landfall in history when it came ashore in Jacksonville, Fla.** With this early tropical activity in mind, Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com) is urging travelers to prepare for upcoming vacations by considering travel insurance options. No matter if travelers are taking advantage of off-season deals in Florida and the Caribbean or heading to destinations outside of the hurricane belt, their plans can be drastically affected by delays and cancellations that can affect airports far from the coasts should a storm arise.
Travel Guard offers the following tips to help travelers understand the ins and outs of using Travel Guard's travel insurance plans in the event of a hurricane. Safeguard your trip investment: In the event of a covered hurricane or other unforeseen severe weather, travel insurance may provide benefits under trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. If a trip is cancelled for a covered reason, travel insurance may refund the prepaid, forfeited, non-refundable trip costs up to the limit of coverage. Purchase in advance: Insurance must be purchased at least 24 hours prior to a hurricane being named in order for trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage to cover losses due to the hurricane. Once a hurricane watch or warning is in effect, it's too late. To avoid a last-minute scramble, travelers should purchase insurance at the same time they book their travel plans.
Monitor status of airports, accommodations and driving routes: If a storm directly affects travel arrangements or accommodations, insureds may benefit from trip cancellation or trip interruption coverage. A few examples: an airport is closed due to the high winds; mandatory evacuations are enforced at a policyholder's hotel/resort; roads are impassable due to high water and alternate modes of transportation are not possible. If a resort, hotel or vacation home is damaged and cannot be used, or if comparable accommodations cannot be provided, non-refundable costs could be covered. Be aware of the difference between what has happened and what "might" happen: Inclement weather must directly affect travel arrangements for travel insurance to cover the loss. Base travel insurance plans never cover losses incurred by a cancellation based upon what "might" happen because of a storm.
For example, if a policyholder chooses not to take a flight because of concern about a hurricane, and that flight still operates on schedule, the cost of the flight will not be a covered loss. Prepare for delays: If the airport from which flights are scheduled to depart is closed due to a hurricane or other weather event, travel insurance may cover the expenses incurred because of the delay. Additionally, reasonable accommodations and travel expenses may be covered until travel becomes possible. It's important to understand that Travel Guard's travel insurance plans do not cover cancellations solely made by the traveler's choice not to go because of possible delays, unless a plan including "Cancel For Any Reason" coverage has been purchased. "With the many unanticipated situations that can arise during hurricane season, our best advice to travelers is to be prepared," said Carol Mueller, Vice President, Travel Guard North America. "Travel Guard travel insurance plans average 5-7 percent of the total trip cost, meaning an affordable cost can provide travelers with confidence throughout hurricane season."
Hurricane season runs through November 30, 2012. To keep track of the latest hurricane-related news, visit the National Weather Services' National Hurricane Center.
**Source: National Hurricane Center - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
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